December 09, 2009

Smart Defense Acquisition: Learning from French Procurement Reform

By Ethan B. Kapstein

The demands of rapidly evolving conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan coupled with intense fiscal pressure at home underscore the need to reform U.S. defense acquisition. This policy brief, authored by CNAS Non-Resident Senior Fellow Ethan Kapstein, examines the French defense reform process and draws recommendations for how to apply their best practices to our own, including streamlining the contracting process and increasing the government’s technical expertise by recruiting the nation’s top science and engineering experts. 

“As President Obama seeks to reform defense acquisition, he should look to “best practices” from beyond the Beltway,” writes Kapstein.  “Unbeknownst to most Americans, the French have developed an innovative approach to controlling the cost growth of the weapons they produce. The United States would do well to examine, and perhaps adapt, elements of this model.”


  • Ethan B. Kapstein